An overtime goal from Jacob Johnston, just seven seconds from time, gave Edinburgh Capitals their first home win of the season – a 4-3 Challenge Cup victory over Dundee Stars at Murrayfield last night.
And Capitals top-scorer Ryan Hayes believes, after Edinburgh almost threw the game away in regulation, they must “mature as a team” if they are to continue to have any chance of success this season.
Edinburgh, with less than seven minutes of the game remaining, were cruising at 3-1 when Paul Zanette fired the puck out-of play under no pressure for a delay-of-game penalty and handing the Stars a power-play.
The visitors, who up until that point had produced a lacklustre third-period display, roared back into the game, and with defence-man Kyle Bigos also sitting in the penalty box for tripping, scored two quick-fire power-play goals through hard-nosed forward Justin Faryna to force overtime.
Hayes, who laid on the match winner for Johnston, said: “We need to stop taking penalties late in the game, it’s just one of the things we need to clean up if we want to be considered a championship team.
“We’ve been working so hard over the last month and, from where we started, it feels unbelievable to get this first win at home. We’ve been building towards this for the last three weeks. The team is coming together, we can only move forward from here.
“For sure, we’ve let a lot of games slip away recently; we have to mature as a team, but this win can only help us do that. We had one relapse in overtime that led to a two-man breakaway, but aside from taking these bad penalties and the fact our penalty-kill needs to improve we played great.”
Capitals started the game in the best possible fashion, and were two up in just five minutes. With Dundee on an early power-play, Capitals’ forward, Trevor Gerling, won possession at centre-ice, the puck ricocheted into the path of Hayes, who in turn slipped a perfectly weighted pass for Zanette to go one-on-one with Stars goalie Vlastimil Lakosil and fire the puck through the goalie’s pads to open the scoring after three minutes.
Johnston then caught everyone off-guard less than two minutes later after skating round the back of the Stars net, Laksoil, and everyone else, expected a pass into the slot, instead the American fired a powerful wrist shot top shelf from a tight angle to give the home side a 2-0 lead.
Stars re-grouped for the second period and enjoyed their best spell of the game in terms of possession and time in the Edinburgh zone, however, in what was a vast improvement in the Capitals’ defensive displays so far this season, they restricted Stars to ten shots on goal, and increased their lead to 3-0 in the 27th minute. Hayes scored with a wrap-around finish after he had been set up following a flowing team-move that swept from one end of the rink to the other.
The visitors got themselves a foothold in the game with a power-play goal just two minutes later, Latvian internationalist Martins Porejs rifling a slap-shot from just inside the blue line. Netminder Carsen Chubak got his glove to it, but could not keep it out.
Edinburgh controlled the majority of the final period and looked to be re-bounding from Saturday’s disappointing 5-2 loss at Fife Flyers in the best possible fashion, before late penalties gifted the Tayside outfit their way back into the game, and what may prove to be a valuable point in the race for a cup quarter-final place.